LEE’S SUMMIT — Two Lee’s Summit daycares are closed a day after prosecutors charged the woman who owns them, along with her 18-year-old son.
One woman said she tried to report the daycare two years ago for a different issue, but she’s still shocked to learn that the owner of Little Learner and her son are charged in a child sex abuse case.
Heather Bryant said when the incident happened to her daughter she pulled her out of Little Learner on Church Street immediately.
With Wednesday’s news, she’s hoping many kids will be getting better care from now on.
“I believed in my heart of all hearts that something would happen, and maybe that was a tip off to a future event,” Bryant said. “You never want to wish this on somebody’s kids, but I think with me bringing it to their attention it might have.”
Bryant said she didn’t know 18-year-old Joseph Hammerly, but she has a history with his mother, and the daycare owner’s, Emily. Bryant said her daughter went to Little Learner for about a year around 2017.
“You don’t know what you don’t know,” Bryant said. “If it’s your first child and they’re going to daycare for the first time, you do what you need to do. It was a positive referral.”
Everything was fine, she said, for a while — until her daughter confided in her.
“There was an incident with another child. It was another girl in her classroom,” Bryant said. “My daughter came home that night and was very explicit. She’s two years old or was two years old at the time.”
She said she went immediately to Emily Hammerly with the information, but Bryant said Hammerly brushed it off.
Bryant said after she pulled her daughter out of the school other parents told her Hammerly asked them to write positive reviews online.
“The response was very defensive and very just almost like, ‘Oh, that’s not a big deal,'” Bryant said. “Kids tell stories all the time. The owner gave an example of her kid saying something that didn’t happen. But as a parent, that’s not at all the reaction that you want. You want a source of empathy.”
Bryant said she reported the information to the state. She also told police and filed a report. Neither were able to conclude anything because there were no cameras in the bathroom where the incident occurred.
“It was really discouraging,” Bryant said. “It was really hard to hear that. I knew that she was not lying, but on the same token, it felt discouraging to the other kids that may have been a victim of something like this.”
Police haven’t said if there are more alleged victims in the case connected to Joseph Hammerly. He’s expected in court on August 8, while Emily Hammerly is awaiting a court date.